followers (11)

  • bigtone23
  • misskoska
  • telisatel
  • patbrag
  • Gatosecorecordings
  • Dale Nortier
  • tate
  • Samurai Hash
  • Steven
  • seltek27
  • roberto g

Greg Wilson's Time Capsule

  • Classic
  • Disco
  • Funk
  • United Kingdom
Greg Wilson's Time Capsule
Time Capsule is a monthly selection of records played 30 years ago by DJ Greg Wilson - the first in the series covering January 1976.

The idea was born of 'First Impressions', which Wilson put together to mark the 30th Anniversary of his club debut, on December 6th 1975. Full information here

As the months go by, Time Capsule will build into a veritable dance music archive, which will help illustrate how the Disco era unfolded from a UK perspective.

With authenticity paramount, the main sources, when identifying the selections (and enabling precise dating), will be the official UK chart and Blues & Soul magazine, plus Wilson's own record lists.

Each Time Capsule comes complete with tracklisting and accompanying text, please click on the ? icon next to each mix to access the information.

Special thanks to Six Million Steps for all their help:

For more about Greg Wilson:



Login or register to write a message.

  • There are no shouts yet.


Greg Wilson's Time Capsule - April 1976

Greg Wilson's Time Capsule - April 1976

Time Capsule is a monthly selection of records played 30 years ago by DJ Greg Wilson - the first in the series covering January 1976. The idea was born of 'First Impressions', which Wilson put together to mark the 30th Anniversary of his club debut, on December 6th 1975.

As the months go by, Time Capsule will build into a veritable dance music archive, which will help illustrate how the Disco era unfolded from a UK perspective. With authenticity paramount, the main sources, when identifying the selections (and enabling precise dating), will be the official UK chart and Blues & Soul magazine, plus Wilson's own record lists.

Each Time Capsule comes complete with tracklisting and accompanying text.


Born and raised across the river Mersey from Liverpool, England, Greg Wilson is one of the key figures responsible for the development of the early 80's Electro-Funk scene in clubs across the north of England before its spread throughout the country. Borrowing from formative experiences at an early age in England and Continental Europe, Wilson introduced British club audiences to the revolutionary Dance music sounds coming out of New York City. Both reviled by traditionalists and praised by those hungry for something new, Greg Wilson helped shepherd the evolution of Black Dance music in the UK from the Soul and Funk sounds that dominated the 70's to the emergence of House and Hip Hop in the late 80's. He retired from DJing at an early age in 1984, but has returned to DJ work in recent years and received the hero's welcome befitting his role in the history of Dance music.




Lamont Dozier had made his name in a big way, alongside brothers, Brian and Edward Holland, as one third of the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting / production team who had scored hit after hit for Motown during the 60's, including some of the decades most memorable singles by artists like The Supremes (whose 'Where Did Our Love Go' in 1964 was the first of 5 consecutive US number 1's in collaboration with the trio), The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye and Martha & The Vandellas, to name but a few. However, following a dispute with Motown head, Berry Gordy, they left the company and set up their own labels, Invictus and Hot Wax, continuing their run of hits with tracks like Chairman Of The Board's 'Give Me Just A Little More Time' and 'Band Of Gold' by Freda Payne. Dozier also released records between 1963-73 with Brian Holland, recording as Holland-Dozier (firstly with Motown, later Invictus) - the best-known from a UK perspective being 'Why Can't We Be Lovers', which reached number 29 on the chart in 1972 and was also a hit in his homeland. Prior to this he'd recorded as a solo artist (as both Lamont Dozier and Lamont Anthony) and also as a member of The Romeos and The Voice Masters. In 1973 Dozier decided to re-launch his solo career signing with ABC, for whom he recorded tracks like 'Tryin' To Hold On To My Woman' and the anti-Nixon critique, 'Fish Ain't Bitin''. However, his final ABC album 'Prophecy', was shelved at the last minute and only one copy remains (bought by the famed Northern Soul DJ, Richard Searling, for '3000 in 1990). He moved to Warner Brothers, releasing a trio of albums during the latter half of the 70's. His second Warners album, 'Peddlin' Music On The Side', included 'Going Back To My Roots', inspired by Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize winning novel 'Roots: The Saga Of An American Family', first published in 1976, which, the following year, would be adapted for TV, becoming a groundbreaking mini-series. 'Roots' was a history of Haley's family, dating back to Africa and the capture of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, by slave traders in Gambia. 'Roots' was a phenomenal success, becoming one of the most viewed programmes in US history. It was also perfectly attuned to the times, with black Americans, having come through the trials and tribulations of the civil rights era, feeling a greater sense of connectedness to their African heritage. 'Going Back To My Roots' would pick up DJ plays on both sides of the Atlantic, the full length version (coming in at just under 10 minutes) was perfectly suited to the 12" format, and the record would become a firm favourite on the black scene in the UK, whilst reaching number 35 on the US Disco chart. In 1980, a cover version by Richie Havens would go massive on the Jazz-Funk scene here (although it's often mistakenly described as a Balearic 'discovery' from the end of the decade). In 1981 WEA in the UK actually pressed up a limited DJ only 12", featuring both the Richie Havens and Lamont Dozier recordings - both being acknowledged as Jazz-Funk classics. However, it's Odyssey's version, from 1981, that gave the track the most mainstream exposure, reaching number 4 on the UK chart. In 1989 Italy's FPI Project would score big on the growing Rave scene with their interpretation of the track, 'Rich In Paradise', and, following the addition of Sharon Dee Clarke's vocal, it was issued in the UK under the original title, making it to number 9 on the chart.

Produced by British DJ Ian Levine with collaborator Paul David Wilson (the tracks writer), 'Cloudburst' was the first Eastbound Expressway single and the only one released on Contempo. The follow-up, 'Never Let Go' would find favour in the US clubs, but not in the UK. Levine was still releasing tracks a decade later under this project name, reaching number 19 on the US Disco chart in 1987 with 'Knock Me Senseless'.

Detroit's Dennis Coffey is a seminal guitarist - the man who introduced the wah-wah sound to Motown, via Norman Whitfield's groundbreaking 'psychedelic Soul' productions for The Temptations during the late 60's / early 70's. As a member of the Funk Brothers, the unsung heroes of the Motown sound, Coffey had worked on numerous sessions for the company and is said to have contributed to over 100 gold and platinum selling albums in his illustrious career. In 1971 he recorded the million selling Funk instrumental, 'Scorpio', for Sussex Records, under the name Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band - the break in the track now regarded as a Hip Hop landmark. 'Scorpio' was produced by Mike Theodore, also from Detroit and Coffey's friend since the early 60's. The partnership would also make their mark during the Disco era, via their association with Westbound Records, starting off with the huge club hit 'Devil's Gun' by CJ & Co. This was followed by Coffey's second solo album for the label, 'Back Home', which featured further club favourites, 'Wings Of Fire' and 'Free Spirit', both of which were listed when reaching number 11 on the US Disco chart. 'Wings Of Fire' would become a Jazz-Funk favourite, but received little support outside of the specialist scene in the UK.

Lenny Williams was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but grew up in Oakland, California. He signed to the fledgling Fantasy Records in 1968, releasing 2 singles, "Lisa's Gone" and "Feelin' Blue", written by John Fogerty from lablemates, Creedence Clearwater Revival. He'd release a further single on Atlantic, but in 1972 he joined Tower Of Power, recording three albums as the bands lead vocalist during their most successful period, before leaving in 1974 to re-launch his solo career. Albums for Warner Brothers and Motown would follow, but it was 1977's 'Choosing You' LP for ABC, which saw him make a major breakthrough. The title track was the choice cut, gaining strong DJ support, although the awkwardly named 'Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh' would eventually provide him with his only UK Top 40 single. These 2 tracks were listed together on the US Disco chart, peaking at number 10.

The Olympic Runners were a well respected early Brit Funk band (made up of UK and US personnel) who'd started out recording in 1974. Consisting of George Chandler (vocals), Joe Jammer (guitar), Pete Wingfield (keyboards), DeLisle Harper (bass) and Glen LeFleur (drums), the band struggled to make any real impact until the Disco flavoured single, 'Keep It Up' was released in 1977 (although Wingfield had scored an unlikely one-off solo hit with 'Eighteen With A Bullet', reaching number 7 in '75). Despite 'Keep It Up' finding favour in the clubs, both here and in the States (where it reached number 27 on the Disco chart), it failed to crossover commercially, and it wouldn't be until 1978's 'Whatever It Takes' that they finally made it into the lower regions of the chart. They'd later enjoy a run of 3 top 40 singles between 78/79 - 'Get It While You Can', 'Sir Dancealot' and 'The Bitch'.

In 1965, the Martha & The Vandellas original of 'Nowhere To Run' went top 10 in the US. It would also make three appearances on the UK chart (number 26 in '65, number 42 in '69, and, almost 2 decades later, number 52 in 1988). The Dynamic Superiors version of this Motown classic (the band were also signed to Motown) was aimed at the ever-growing Disco audience and made its way up to number 26 on the US Disco chart. Having formed in Washigton DC, back in the 60's, it had been a long road for the Dynamic Superiors and, despite recording 4 albums during the 70's, things wouldn't really take off for them. Much of their publicity centred around the fact that their lead singer, Tony Washington (who'd changed the spelling to Toni) was openly gay - this was at a time when the closet door was firmly shut in a general sense with regards to black musicians. 'Nowhere To Run' would be included on the recent 'Motown Disco' retrospective compiled by the Six Million Steps crew.

Following the top 20 success of their previous single, 'Disco Inferno', 'I Feel Like I've Been Livin' (On The Dark Side Of The Moon)' pretty much sank without a trace following its UK release. Having made little impression with US DJ's, the UK record company saw it as a track that would appeal more to Northern Soul type sensibilities, given its uptempo groove, but support was purely specialist and sales few and far between.

La Belle Epoque (French for 'the Beautiful era' - relating to the period from 1890 to the outbreak of the first world war in 1914) were a female trio from Paris who scored a massive hit with their Disco cover of the equally huge 1966 Los Bravos single, 'Black Is Black' (both reached number 2 on the UK chart). Listed as Belle Epoque (without the La) on the US Disco chart, they took 'Black Is Black', along with the title track to their album 'Miss Broadway', to number 21 on the US Disco chart. Despite continued success in Europe, La Belle Epoque remained a one hit wonder from a UK perspective.

The new single from Donna Summer was 'Down Deep Inside (Theme From 'The Deep')' - 'The Deep' being a new movie based on the best-selling novel by 'Jaws' author Peter Benchley. Rather than her normal production team of Moroder and Bellotte, the track was produced, arranged and conducted by the English film score composer John Barry. It went to number 5 on the UK chart, where it was issued on Casablanca, as opposed to the label her records were normally released on, which was GTO. In the US the track was pressed on a special one-sided 12" with 'I Feel Love', which peaked at number 3 on the Disco chart. Why 2 tracks were pressed on one side of vinyl, with nothing at all on the other, is unclear. The US release was also listed as 'Theme From The Deep (Down, Deep Inside)'.

'Oxygene Pt IV' by French synthesizer player Jean Michelle Jarre is one of the best-known pieces of electronic music ever made. Taken from his first multi-million selling album, 'Oxygene', the single went all the way to number 4 in the UK (the album just missing the top spot). Jarre, who'd been releasing records since 1969, would become an international star following 'Oxygene'. He'd later take his spectacular concerts around the world, combining music and lighting on a grand scale - concerts in Paris in 1979, Houston in 1986, Paris again in 1990 and Moscow in 1997 would enter the Guinness Book Of Records as performances to the largest amount of people (a million, over 1.5 million, 2.5 million and 3.5 million respectively). He was also the first Western Pop artist granted permission to stage concerts in China (1981). Amongst his prolific output down the years was a unique album in 1983 called 'Musique pour Supermarche'' (Music for Supermarkets), which had a print run of one single copy. The album was made expressly to voice Jarre's distaste and disregard for the music business. After destroying the master, he allowed Radio Luxembourg to broadcast the album just once, before auctioning it, raising '10,000 for French artists. On December 31st 1999 though into January 1st 2000, Jarre staged another spectacular, against the backdrop of the Egyptian pyramids at Giza.

Born in Newnan, Georgia, Hamilton Bohannon was a drummer who had, at one time, played in the same band as Jimi Hendrix. This was before he worked for Stevie Wonder in the mid-60's, having moved to Detroit in 1965. He'd later work for Motown, having been given the position of bandleader, responsible for live arrangements for all Motown's top acts. When Motown relocated to Los Angeles, Bohannon stayed in Detroit, assembling his own band and, in 1972, he signed to Dakar/Brunswick, releasing his debut album, 'Stop And Go' the following year. In 1975, Hamilton Bohannon had made a big impact in the clubs, resulting in a quartet of UK top 50 hits - 'South African Man' (number 22), 'Disco Stomp' (number 6), 'Foot Stompin' Music' (number 23) and 'Happy Feeling' (number 49). 'Bohannon Disco Symphony' was his latest US single, which I picked up and played on import, but it was the flip side, 'Andrea' that caught on with DJ's Stateside, reaching number 19 on the US Disco chart. Unfortunately 'Andrea' has to be filed under 'one that got away' from my personal perspective, otherwise it would certainly have also have been worthy of inclusion here. Although 'Disco Stomp' would remain his biggest UK hit, his 1978 single, 'Let's Start The Dance' and the 1981 update 'Let's Start II Dance Again' are what most people remember him for nowadays (there was also a third version, 'Let's Start The Dance III' in 1983, mixed by Francois Kevorkian). Not surprisingly, given his distinctive groove, Bohannon has been widely sampled.

Having experienced something of a renaissance with his previous singles, 'Get Up Offa That Thing' and 'Bodyheat', James Brown, the Minister of New New Super Heavy Funk (to give him one of his titles), would struggle during the coming years, having to wait until 1981 before returning to the UK chart. His latest US single, 'Give Me Some Skin' wouldn't be released here.

The Ohio Players were another big name in Funk whose star would soon be on the wane. 'O.H.I.O' would prove to something of a swansong for them, although their music returned to specialist dancefloors 2 years on, via the more Disco flavoured, 'Everybody Up'.

Hot on the heels of 'I Got It' was a new US single from New York Port Authority called 'I Don't Want To Work Today'. This would be taken from their one and only album, 'Three Thousand Miles From Home'.

From Mobile, Alabama, Fred Wesley was a pivotal member of James Brown's band between 1968-1970, and then again from 1971-1975, before going on to work with the P Funk dynasty of Parliament / Funkadelic. Wesley's trombone has been a feature of some classic Funk recordings, and throughout his James Brown period he struck up a potent combination with legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker. Whilst a part of the P Funk family he released 2 albums as Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns, 'A Blow For Me, A Toot For You' in 1977, including his cover of the Parliament track featured here, 'Up For The Down Stroke' (not released in the UK) and 1979's 'Say Blow By Blow Backwards'. Following his P Funk affiliation he switched the emphasis from Funk to Jazz, at first joining the Count Basie Orchestra, and later recording his own material. In the 90's Wesley toured with his colleagues from the James Brown band, Alfred 'Pee Wee' Ellis and Maceo Parker, as the JB Horns. With the departure of Ellis the band became The Maceo Parker Band. In 2002 Wesley published his autobiography, 'Hit Me, Fred: Recollections Of A Sideman'. Amongst his other projects, he currently serves as an adjunct professor in the Jazz Studies department of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Born Albert Greene in Forrest City, Arkansas, Al Green began performing in the 50's, aged just 9, as part of a vocal quartet called the Greene Brothers. In high school he'd form a group called Al Greene & The Creations, before later finding success, in 1967, as Al Greene & The Soul Mates, having a top 5 R&B hit with 'Back Up Train', released by Hot Line Music (a company owned by 2 of the Creations). Subsequent singles failed to do as well and, in 1969, he hooked-up with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records, where he'd achieve Soul superstardom. With Mitchell arranging and producing, Green (having dropped the e from the end of his surname) would return to the chart with his cover of the Temptations' classic 'I Can't Get Next To You' in 1970, before having a series of major hit singles between 1971-1975, with tracks like 'Tired Of Being Alone', 'I'm Still In Love with You', 'Look What You Done For Me', 'You Ought To Be With Me', Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)' and, of course, his US number 1, 'Let's Stay Together'. He also recorded 6 consecutive number 1 US R&B albums during these years. However, despite continued R&B success, his record sales dropped after 1975. The previous year his girlfriend, Mary Woodson, had thrown a pot of sticky boiling grit on him as he prepared to shower (causing third degree burns to his back, stomach and arm), before she committed suicide - this had happened because he'd told her he didn't want to get married. The incident, unsurprisingly, had a major effect on his life and, deeply shaken, he turned to God and religion, becoming, in 1976, an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis. Despite continued R&B releases the once mass audience for his music never returned and Green would eventually concentrate his energies towards pastoring his church and gospel singing. He continues to record and preach today. In 1995 Green was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and in 2002 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (to add to his 9 previous Grammy's). In 2004 he was named 65th in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists Of All-Time, whilst, the previous year, the magazine ranked his 'Greatest Hits' album from 1975 at 52 on their all-time list. The track included here, 'Love And Happiness' was included on an updated version of the 'Greatest Hits' in 1977, replacing Green's wonderful version of the Bee Gees song, 'How Can You Mend A Broken Heart'. 'Love And Happiness' originally appeared on his album, 'I'm Still In Love With You', in 1972, but wasn't released as a single until 5 years later.

On the back of Billy Paul's top 30 success in the UK, covering the Wings track, 'Let 'Em In', another cover was selected for the follow-up, this time Elton John's 'Your Song', which had originally featured on his 1972 album, '360 Degrees Of Billy Paul'. It didn't quite emulate its predecessor, but managed to achieve a 5th UK top 40 for hit Paul, peaking at number 37.

Finally it's 2 more tracks from Donna Summer, making 3 in all on this months programme. Unlike 'Down Deep Inside (Theme From The Deep)', these both featured on her current album 'I Remember Yesterday', and would both be subsequently issued as singles. The title track was released in September, only a month on from her previous single, but failed to crack the top 10, stalling at number 14, whilst 'Love's Unkind' would follow in December, going all the way to number 3 on the UK chart. Both came under the blanket 'all cuts' listing when the album topped the US Disco chart. The Dr Buzzard's styled 'I Remember Yesterday' and the 60's flavoured 'Love's Unkind' featured as the LP's first 2 tracks. I used to play side 1 of the album early in the evening, when people were still coming in, as there weren't any gaps between the tracks ('Back In Love Again' and 'I Remember Yesterday (Reprise)' followed), giving me the opportunity to have a chat at the bar for a decent length of time before I kicked off the night, without having to head back to the DJ booth to keep changing the records.
Things were definitely heading in the right direction at the Golden Guinea. I was really beginning to develop things down in the Disco room, introducing an increasing amount of imports into my playlist. This was apparent from the 'Star Chart' I was asked to supply for the B.A.D.J.A (British Associated DJ Alliance) newsletter. I chose to submit an Imports top 10:

1. 'Best Of My Love' - Emotions
2. 'Slide' - Slave
3. 'Livin' In The Life' - Isley Brothers
4. 'Disco Lights' - Dexter Wansel
5. 'Funky Music' - Ju Par Universal Orchestra
6. 'Feel Like Being Funky' - Avalanche
7. 'Love Shock' - Kitty & The Haywoods
8. 'Get Your Boom Boom (Around The Room)' - Le Pamplemousse
9. 'Give Me Some Skin' - James Brown
10. 'Bite Your Granny' - Morning Noon & Night

The big music news this month was the death of Elvis Presley at his Gracelands home in Memphis on August 16th. To many, Elvis had become a parody of his former self, especially during recent years - now bloated and looking somewhat ridiculous in his trademark jumpsuit, whilst he went through his repertoire on stage in Las Vegas, far removed from his Rock & Roll roots. As John Lennon, a big Elvis fan in his youth, once famously quipped, 'Elvis died in the army'. His latest single, 'Way Down', would take him back to the top of the British chart, posthumously, for the first time since 'The Wonder Of You' in 1970 (equalling The Beatles' record of 17 UK number 1's - although, whilst it took Elvis 20 years to amass this total, The Beatles did it in little over 6). In 2002, 'A Little Less Conversation', a dance remix credited to Elvis Vs JXL, gave Presley his 18th number 1, with 2005 re-issues of 'Jailhouse Rock', 'One Night' / 'I Got Stung' and 'It's Now Or Never', bringing the total to 21.

Copyright Greg Wilson - August 2007

Further Info:
Following the success of T-Connection's 'Do What You Wanna Do', TK weighed in with another massive track, this time a more downtempo groove, Peter Brown's debut release, 'Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?'. The single would reach number 6 on the Billboard Disco chart, whilst going top 20 pop, becoming, in the process, the first US 12" to sell a million copies! In the UK it would just miss the top 40, peaking at number 43. Multi-instrumentalist, Brown, born in Blue Island, Illinois, would study painting, sculpting and film and art history at the School For Art Institute Of Chicago before moving to Miami, where he'd signed a recording contract with the TK subsidiary label, Drive, having been championed by producer, Cory Wade. The b-side of 'Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?', 'Burning Love Breakdown', would also go on to gain legendary status at the hugely influential New York club, the Paradise Garage.

Whilst Slave's single, 'You And Me' continued to receive club support, the more Funk based DJ's bought a copy of their album for the killer cut, 'Slide'. Slave would fail to show on both the UK chart and the US Disco chart until 1980's 'Just A Touch Of Love'.

'Brick House' by the Commodores was a must have import 7" for a number of months. Despite becoming their most enduring dancefloor track, it only reached number 34 on the US Disco list (which was one place lower than 'Fancy Dancer'). In the UK it would quickly became one of the biggest club tracks around, although Motown didn't finally release it until October, when it was issued back-to-back with the 1976 US hit, 'Sweet Love' (clearly in the hope of capitalizing on the success of the band's hugely popular single, 'Easy', via another ballad). However, the single would only make it to number 32. Given the status of 'Brick House' in the clubs, it should have gained a much higher chart position, but it never received the necessary radio support to be anything other than a moderate hit.

'Right On Time', the title track from the second LP by the Brothers Johnson, was the DJ's choice from the album. It would eventually be issued as a single a few months later, but failed to chart.

The Philadelphia International All-Stars were, as the name suggests, a collective of some of the labels best-known artists (Lou Rawls / Billy Paul / Teddy Pendergrass / The O'Jays / Archie Bell / Dee Dee Sharp Gamble), who'd come together to highlight the social problems existing at the time in black inner-city areas (especially in New York, which was experiencing major difficulties - the city facing the serious prospect of bankruptcy). Proceeds from sales of the track, and a subsequent album, were committed to a 5 year charity project, set up to help improve conditions. 'Let's Clean Up The Ghetto' reached number 34 on the UK chart and number 26 on the US Disco chart.

Originally recorded by KC & The Sunshine Band for their 1976 album, 'Part 3', 'Wrap Your Arms Around Me' had never really got a look in, given the trio of dancefloor hits included on the album ('I'm Your Boogie Man', 'Keep It Comin' Love' and '(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty' - it appeared alongside 'I'm Your Boogie Man' as the singles b-side). Issued via Malaco's Chimneyville label, Lady Love's cover of 'Wrap Your Arms Around Me', became a cult-classic on Merseyside without ever, to the best of my knowledge, taking off anywhere else. It was never issued in England and quickly faded into obscurity Stateside. There's absolutely no background information online about Lady Love, so I'm presuming that this was their only release. It's local popularity was, once again, instigated by Terry Lennaine and Les Spaine, with a whole host of DJ's, including myself, quickly following their lead and investing in a copy of the import 12".

Detroit's Morning Noon and Night were another band with a hot import out at the time (this time a 7"), on the United Artists Roadshow label. With its memorable title, 'Bite Your Granny', this would climb to number 32 on the US Disco chart, whilst also making a mark in the clubs over here. Despite the relative success of the single and their self-titled debut album, the 6-piece band would disappear from the scene no sooner had they arrived. The band where produced by Michael Stokes, who also worked with artists including Creative Source, Keith Barrow and Shirley Caesar during the 70's.

Born in Peoria, Illinois, Bruce Johnston, moved to Los Angeles as a child. Having studied classical piano, he became a musician, backing a number of well-known artists in the late 50's, including Ritchie Valens, the Everly Brothers and Eddie Cochran. His first recording success was when he arranged and played on 'Teen Beat', a hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1959 for Sandy Nelson. He began his career as a record producer working for Del-Fi Records, before going on to release a series of Surf singles in the early 60's and, along with friend and collaborator, Terry Melcher (who went on to work with The Byrds and Paul Revere & The Raiders), worked as a staff producer for Columbia Records. He become a touring member of the Beach Boys in 1965, as the bands' main creative force, Brian Wilson, had decided he could no longer balance life on the road with his songwriting obligations (Wilson's original replacement was Glen Campbell, who toured with the Beach Boys for a couple of months before embarking on his own career path). Johnston continues to be a member of the Beach Boys and was the composer of several of their songs including 1971's 'Disney Girls (1959)'. However, his most successful composition (a homage to Brian Wilson) was a track made popular by the MOR singer, Barry Manilow, called 'I Write The Songs' - a US number 1, which won it's writer a Grammy for Song Of The Year following its release in 1975. Johnston's surprise 1977 single, 'Pipeline', was something of a Disco cash-in, but regarded at the time as a pretty good one, reaching number 17 on the US Disco chart and number 33 in the UK. 'Pipeline', a track from back in the Surf era, had originally been a hit for The Chantays (top 5 US, top 20 UK).

Teddy Pendergrass followed his ballad, 'The Whole Town's Laughing At Me' with a more lively offering, 'I Don't Love You Anymore'. Listed alongside 'You Can't Hide From Yourself' and 'The More I See, The More I Get', on the US Disco chart, with a peak position of number 7.

A group of musicians attending North Carolina Central College, N.C.C.U (New Central Connection Unlimited) were the brainchild of Gene Strassler, the chairman of the Music Department at the college. Formed in 1976, the band signed to United Artists and their only album, 'Super Trick', produced by Donald Byrd, was released in 1977. The LP included 'Bull City Party', which was issued as a single in the UK following club support on import by some of the specialist DJ's here.

Formed in 1977 by Didier Marouani, Space (not to be confused with the British band of the 90's) were an electronic French trio (also Roland Romaneli and Jannick Top) who recorded what was, in Europe, soon dubbed Space Disco (in its original incarnation), a sub-genre that would have a big influence throughout the continent during the coming years. With the film 'Star Wars', released in the US the previous May, breaking box office records, there was a growing fascination with all things cosmic and Space's arrival with 'Magic Fly' (originally recorded in 1976 as a demo for a TV show about astrology) proved timely, with the record going all the way to number 2 in the UK and becoming a big club favourite. Due to his existing solo recording deal, Marouani chose the pseudonym Ecama for his songwriting credit on 'Magic Fly', and the record would go on to top the chart in numerous countries. However, in the US the big version in the clubs was by Kebekelektrik (a name purported to come from Quebec Electric) on TK. This was French Canadian Gino Soccio's project at the time (Kebekelekrtik would also go on to score big with 'War Dance'). Marouani was none too pleased that Kebekelektik's version had beaten his original to the punch Stateside, taking it into the US Disco top 10, whilst the Space version failed to show at all (although 'Carry On, Turn Me On' and 'Tango In Space', tracks from the debut album, also called 'Magic Fly', would attain a top 5 placing).

21st Creation's 'Tailgate' was the latest Disco release from Motown, via the company's Gordy label in the States. Co-written, produced and arranged by Mark Davis (it's lyrics reminiscent of the O'Jays 1972 classic, 'Backstabbers'), 'Tailgate' reached number 32 on the US Disco chart and, in the UK, was one of the Disco tracks that Northern Soul dancers took to as the scene underwent its late 70's schism. 21st Creation would issue an album, 'Break Thru', before completely vanishing off the radar.

The latest US 7" from the evergreen Isley Brothers was 'Livin' In The Life', which failed to make any showing on either the UK chart of the US Disco chart. The rocky vibe of this track puts me in mind of an artist that would make a big impact in the coming years, Rick James, especially one of his best-remembered tracks, 'Super Freak'.

Another import 7" I bought in July '77 was 'Funky Music' by Detroit's Ju-Par Universal Orchestra'. It was never released in the UK, but picked up plenty of interest from the Funk specialists here. From an equally obscure album called 'Moves And Grooves', which, more recently, has been described by diggers website, Dusty Groove, as 'one of the indie-soul treasures of the 70's'.

Said to be the most recorded brass section of all-time, Stax legends the Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson on trumpet and Andrew Love on tenor saxophone, being the 2 constant members) had worked with many of the greatest Soul artists of the 60's and early 70's, like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave and many many more. Originally making their mark as part of the Mar-Kays, Jackson (the son of a white travelling salesman) and Love (whose father was a black preacher) would record on the majority of Stax releases. From their 1977 album of the same name, 'Get Up And Dance', this single for RCA failed to make any real impact outside of the clubs. The Memphis Horns would continue to work with a who's who of recording artists, including the Doobie Brothers, U2, Rod Stewart, Dr John, James Taylor and Primal Scream, to name but a few.

Deniece Williams was one of the guest vocalists on the aforementioned 'Get Up And Dance' album, but it was her solo recordings that were bringing her major acclaim. Following on from the UK number 1, 'Free', William's once again hit the top 10, this time peaking at number 8, with 'That's What Friends Are For'.

From their new album, 'Zoom', The Commodores enhanced their reputation as one of the favourite 'slowies' acts of the time, with the title track becoming an end of night favourite. Would have been a far better choice than the older 'Sweet Love' to issue as a double-a side single with 'Brick House' in October, but, instead, it wouldn't be released as a single until 1978, when it appeared back-to-back with 'Too Hot Ta Trot', making it to number 38 on the charts.

Finally it's a record by a true one hit wonder (an artist / group whose only hit single is a number 1), The Floaters, formed by former Detroit Emerald, James Mitchell, who teamed up with his brother, Paul, and 3 others to complete the 5 piece vocal group. Mitchell claims the idea arrived in a dream - the lyrics highlighting each of the group members, who introduced themselves not only by name, but by star sign. The record was a sensation reaching number 2 on the US Pop chart and number 1 on the R&B chart, whilst going all the way to number 1 here in the UK. The group would release a trio of albums during the late 70's, but never grace the UK singles chart again. However , the runaway success of that one record would keep them in work as a live act throughout the 80's and 90's.

In addition to my DJ work, between April and August of 1977 I wrote a regular fortnightly youth column for the local newspaper, the Wallasey News. It was aimed primarily at teenagers, with features on the local music scene, or new trends like skateboarding. In my final year at school, the careers advice officer had asked me what I was going to do when I left and, with deejaying not considered a serious career option, I'd said that I might do some journalism, having always enjoyed writing. I was told that this would never happen unless I went on to further education, which I had no intention of doing, so there was a extra degree of satisfaction when I was asked to write for the Wallasey News, having none of what I was led to believe where the 'necessary qualifications for such a role'.

It didn't work out quite the way I'd wanted, with the newspaper often slipping in pieces that I hadn't written, which didn't fit in with my vision of what a youth column should be (news of a scout group who'd won some cup or other, or the results of a school swimming gala). It was because of this that I stopped writing for the paper, but it'd been an interesting experience.

18 months later, in February 1979, I'd once again write a regular column for a local newspaper, this time the Wirral Globe, covering the Disco scene within the region. The title, 'Discomania', was taken from the track by the Lovers that appears in the 'other tracks considered' list above.

Copyright Greg Wilson - July 2007

Further Info:
The programme begins with an absolutely seminal track - undoubtedly one of the most influential recordings of the Disco era, Donna Summer's sonic revelation, 'I Feel Love'. I first heard this as the final track on her otherwise nostalgia based album, 'I Remember Yesterday', which I'd been mailed by the UK record company, GTO. Whilst the album concept was to look backwards, with a variety of musical references, 'I Feel Love' symbolised the future, with producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotti well and truly laying down the blueprint for a new technological approach to Disco music, which would have a major bearing on the course of electronica, and eventually, the evolution of Techno music. Released as a single, 'I Feel Love' would become a UK number 1, whilst reaching number 6 on the US chart. 'I Remember Yesterday' (listed as all cuts) would also top the US Disco chart, with 'I Feel Love' back to back on 12" with a new track that wasn't on the album, 'Theme From The Deep (Down, Deep Inside)', joining album in the Disco chart, where it climbed to number 3. Five years later, in 1982, Patrick Cowley's inspired 15+ minute mix of the track would gain cult classic status (sadly, Cowley died later that year, having contracted the AIDS virus).

The first of 4 imports I was playing this month was C.J & Co's 'Devil's Gun', which WEA had sent to me on Westbound 12" ahead of its UK release on Atlantic. A huge track in the US clubs, which went all the way to the summit of the Disco chart and would just miss the UK top 40, peaking at number 43. The Detroit group was the brainchild of famed guitarist and Motown Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey. He co-produced 'Devil's Gun' with Mike Theodore, who he'd worked with since the 60's - credits including Coffey's Funk fusion classic, 'Scorpio', in 1971. Both Theodore and Coffey would release their own albums for Westbound, their names being synonymous with the label during late 70's.

Named after the largest bus terminal in the US, New York Port Authority had originally formed in Amityville, Long Island in the late 60's as The Magnetones. Having changed their name to Moonshadow, they built a solid reputation during the early-mid 70's as a touring band, specialising in covers of R&B hits. They also recorded in Los Angeles as the back up band for a group called Universal Mind, but nothing came of the tracks. In 1976 they signed to Invictus Records in LA, changing their name to New York Port Authority and hooking-up with legendary Motown producer, Brian Holland (Holland-Dozier-Holland) to record their only album 'Three Thousand Miles From Home'. 'I Got It', which included backing vocals from Eloise Laws, was their best-known track, gaining specialist support in the UK, but, like the LP, failing to pick up sales, They began work on a second album, but due to the poor performance of the first, the tracks remained unfinished and the group disbanded.

One of the biggest club tunes of the summer of '77 wasn't even released in the UK at the time - this was 'Best Of My Love' by the Chicago female vocal trio, The Emotions (sisters, Wanda, Sheila and Jeanette Hutchinson). For some strange reason CBS issued 'Flowers', the title track from their 1976 album, just as 'Best Of My Love' was being released as a single Stateside. What's even stranger still is that, despite 'Best Of My Love' going on to spend 5 weeks at the top of the US chart, it wasn't until September that it finally came out here, eventually peaking at number 4. Having picked up an import 7" on a trip to Manchester with Terry Lennaine, who brought the track to the attention of DJ's throughout Merseyside via his radio show, I was one of the first local DJ's to start playing this. I remember it becoming so big that even the most commercially minded DJ's, who rarely ventured outside the top 20 when it came to what they played, were forced to root it out on import. Given just how big it became throughout America, I was surprised to learn that it got no higher than number 11 on the US Disco chart, especially as the groups 'I Don't Want To Lose Your Love' had reached number 4 the previous year, yet only went as high as number 51 on the main chart. Produced by Earth Wind & Fire's Maurice White and Charles Stepney, 'Best Of My Love' would pick up a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group or Chorus and is nowadays recognised as a 70's dance standard. The sisters, who'd first come to prominence via their records on Stax, started out as Three Ribbons And a Bow, a family Gospel group who recorded for a trio of Chicago labels (VeeJay, Twin Stacks and One-Der-Ful), before embarking on their secular career as The Emotions (under the watchful eye of manager Pervis Staples, a family friend who'd go on to Soul immortality as one of the Staples Singers). They'd have a string of R&B hits for Stax, but would only manage to reach the lower region of the pop chart. It would be at Columbia where they'd enjoy their most fruitful period, culminating in the 1979 hit 'Boogie Wonderland', where they featured alongside Earth Wind & Fire. They'd continue to record until 1990, but never managed to re-capture the success they had in the Disco period.

Following on from 'Rigor Mortis', Cameo released a new single in the US, its title, 'Post Mortem', once again a medical term, whilst the two tracks were also very similar in style. They'd soon be issued back to back in the UK, but their popularity on the funkier dancefloors wouldn't generate enough sales to make the chart.

Having made waves with El Coco, Rinder & Lewis, were back with a new single, this time as Le Pamplemousse (French for The Grapefruit). 'Get Your Boom Boom (Around The Room)' was another track I picked up on import this month and, like 'Best Of Your Love', would be a favourite with Terry Lennaine and the more Funk based DJ's on Merseyside, becoming a popular club tune without being available in the UK. However, whereas 'Best Of My Love' would quickly be embraced by the mainstream crowd, 'Get Your Boom Boom (Around The Room)' remained more of a cult favourite. It was eventually issued here towards the end of the year on the Barclay label, but sunk without trace. It was the second single from Le Pamplemousse, and reached number 18 on the US Disco chart, their debut release being 1976's 'Gimmie What You Got', which failed to make any impression here.

Fat Larry's Band, led by Philadelphia born 'Fat' Larry James, would reach number 31 in the UK with their Vincent Montana produced (and co-written) debut single, 'Centre City', although it failed to show on the US Disco chart. James, who had previously been a back-up musician for Soul groups like The Delfonics and Blue Magic, would go on to record 7 albums with the band during the coming decade, their demise following his death in 1987, aged just 38. Despite making the chart with 'Boogie Town' and 'Looking For Love Tonight', which both peaked at 46 in 1979, the band would have to wait until 1982 before they released their biggest single, 'Zoom', which just missed out on topping the chart here. On a more underground level, it's another 1982 track, 'Act Like You Know', which is remembered most fondly, despite its failure to chart. 'Centre City' came from the album 'Feel It', which also featured a track called 'Down On The Avenue', the drums on which have been sampled by a number of Hip Hop artists, including NWA, Run-DMC, Ice T and the Jungle Brothers.

Onto one of the true titans of the entire popular music era, Bob Marley, who, with his band, The Wailers, made the top 20 of the UK chart (number 16) for the first time, courtesy of the title track of arguably his most influential album, 'Exodus'. Although the band were already well known within the black British community, as well as by white Reggae aficionados in this country (The Wailers had actually formed as far back as 1963), it wasn't until the 1975 single, 'No Woman No Cry' (recorded live at a famous performance at London's Lyceum Ballroom that year), that they made their chart breakthrough, peaking at number 22 ('No Woman No Cry' would return to the UK chart following Marley's death in 1981, this time reaching number 8). 'Exodus', with its driving rhythm, would become a firm favourite in the clubs, ranking alongside 'Jamming' and 'Could You Be Loved' as Marley's biggest dancefloor tunes. The classic Wailers line-up, Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer (Neville Livingston), broke-up in 1974, the trio each going on to forge their own separate directions. The rest, as they say, is history, with Marley being dubbed 'the first Third World superstar' following the phenomenal success of his music, and his message, during the latter years of the 70's until his untimely death.

Taken from their 2nd album, 'Right On Time', 'Strawberry Letter 23' was a huge hit in the US, going top 5. Its success was more modest here (number 35), but it brought the brothers their first UK hit. Most people assumed that this was an original song, but it had previously been a single by perhaps one of the most criminally overlooked artists of all, Shuggie Otis (son of the legendary Johnny Otis), who first featured the track on his 1971 Epic LP, 'Freedom Flight' (one of precious few albums he released before losing his recording deal and fading into obscurity). Otis, a multi-instrumentalist, fused Blues, Jazz, Funk, and Pop, with a pinch of psychedelia, to create his own unique style, which was further augmented by his pioneering use of an instrument that wouldn't come into its own until much later, the drum machine. Sadly, the sporadic nature of his work, which was undoubtedly ahead of its time, saw him fall foul of his record company, and his brilliance was left unrecognised. That is until 2001, when former Talking Head, David Byrne, via his Luaka Bop label, re-issued his 1974 LP, 'Information Inspiration' (the album now also featuring 4 of the tracks from 'Freedom Flight', including Otis' wonderful original of 'Strawberry Letter 23'). The unusual title refers to strawberry scented letters written to Otis by his girlfriend (I remember buying an import copy of the Brothers Johnson single from the famous Probe record shop in Liverpool, which smelt of strawberries - this was after I'd received a UK promo, but I was suitably enticed by its novelty value to fork out for an additional copy). One of the brothers, George Johnson, came across the 'Freedom Flight' album as a result of dating one of Otis' cousins, and their version of 'Strawberry Letter 23', expertly produced by Quincy Jones, would be one of the most distinctive tracks of the time.

Next up it's Bootsy's Rubber Band, back with a new single called 'The Pinocchio Theory' ('don't fake the funk or your nose will grow') taken from the album 'Ahh...The Name Is Bootsy, Baby!'. The central theme of the track would later inspire the character, Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk, from Parliament's forthcoming album 'Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome'. The track failed to make any real impression outside of hardcore Funk fans, but would further enhance the growing interest in P Funk, with Parliament, Funkadelic and Bootsy's Rubber Band providing a three-pronged assault, whilst other associated acts, like Parlet, Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns and the Brides Of Funkenstein, adding further muscle during the coming years.

Candi Staton returned to the top 10 with 'Nights On Broadway', a song written by the Bee Gees, which climbed to number 6 in the UK, becoming a club favourite in the process, although it failed to make the US Disco chart. It had originally appeared as the opening track on the 1975 Bee Gees album, 'Main Course', introducing Barry Gibbs falsetto vocal, which would become a trademark of the group's later recordings (the idea to sing falsetto being suggested by the albums legendary producer, Arif Mardin). Had we been told that in 12 months time the Bee Gees would be the biggest Disco act on the planet, we'd have laughingly dismissed the notion - we were in for a big surprise!

'Dancin' Easy' was something of a novelty single, based on the popular 'anytime, any place, anywhere' Martini advert from the TV. Its singer, Danny Williams, a South African who'd begun his career in England back in the 50's, was returning to the chart following a 14 year absence, his previous hit being in 1963. 'Dancin' Easy', released on Ensign, a label co-owned by London DJ, Chris Hill, reached number 30. This would be the first hit for the label that would be best-known for its releases by the Boomtown Rats and Eddy Grant throughout the coming years and, later down the line, Sine'ad O'Connor and The Waterboys (Hill's Brit-Funk affiliation was also represented by acts like Light Of The World, Incognito, Hudson People, Beggar & Co and Phil Fearon & Galaxy). 'Dancin' Easy' followed in the footsteps of 2 notable 70's tracks that had been adapted from TV commercials, 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing' by the New Seekers (Coca-Cola), which topped the chart following its release in 1971, becoming one of the best selling UK singles of the decade, and 'Jeans On' by David Dundas (Brutus jeans), which went as high as number 3 in 1976. This would be something of a swansong for Danny Williams, his most successful single, 'Moon River' going all the way to number 1 in the UK back in 1961. 'Moon River', from the film 'Breakfast At Tiffany's', won an Oscar for its composers Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. However, in the US it wouldn't be Danny Williams, but Andy Williams who is best known for his version of the classic song. Danny Williams died in 2005, aged 62.

One of the most enduring British chart acts, Hot Chocolate recorded at least 1 hit per year between 1970 and 1984. They eventually reached the summit with their 15th hit, 'So You Win Again' (written by Russ Ballard, formerly of the band Argent), which, as with previous singles like 1975's 'Disco Queen' and 'You Sexy Thing', was huge with the more commercial crowd (Hot Chocolate were never viewed by Soul / Funk fans as anything other than a Pop group). Led by the main songwriters, West Indian born vocalist Errol Brown and bassist Tony Watson, they were unusual in Britain at the time, due to the fact that the group included both black and white members. Signing to The Beatles' Apple label in 1969 as the Hot Chocolate Band, they released a Reggae based cover version of the Plastic Ono Band's 'Give Peace A Chance'. However, due to the turmoil at the label, with The Beatles about to split-up, Hot Chocolate would move onto RAK records, owned by the highly successful British record producer, Mickey Most (The Animals, Herman's Hermits, Donovan, Jeff Beck, Lulu etc). Most would rack up a string of top 10 hits with Hot Chocolate during the first half of the 70's, starting of with 1970's 'Love Is Life', and including 'Brother Louie' (a Brown / Wilson composition that would provide a US number 1 for Stories), 'Emma' (their first top 10 hit Stateside) and, of course, 'You Sexy Thing', the track they're best remembered for (also in the US, where it reached number 3), which returned to the top 10 following it's inclusion in the film 'The Full Monty' in 1997. 'So You Win Again' would, however, remain their only number 1, although 'best of' compilations would top the UK album chart in 1987, and then again in 1993. Other hits written by Russ Ballard would include 'New York Groove' (Hello), 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'I Surrender' (Rainbow), and 'God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You' (Kiss - having originally gone top 20 for Argent in '73). In 2003, Errol Brown received the MBE, and in 2004, the Ivor Novello Award for his outstanding contribution to British music.

From Dusseldorf, Germany, Kraftwerk, are nowadays regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 70's, heralding the electronic age, which would subsequently have such a major impact on dance music. Kraftwerk, whose name translates into English as 'power station', was founded in 1970 by Florian Schneider-Esleben and Ralf Hutter, who had met as students in the late 60's and were both involved in the German experimental music scene of the time, which the UK music press dubbed Krautrock. As the band recorded its earlier material, various members came and went, but the classic Kraftwerk line-up - Schneider-Esleben, Hutter, Wolfgang Flur and Karl Bartos - was in place in 1975 when they toured following the success of their breakthrough album, 1974's 'Autobahn'. The LP and its title track would give the band its first UK hits in 1975 (single - number 11, album - number 4), establishing Kraftwerk at the vanguard of experimental electronica. They'd influence a coming generation of British bands, including the likes of the Human League, Ultravox and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, whilst inspiring David Bowie's groundbreaking album, 'Low' ('Trans-Europe Express' actually namechecks Bowie and a previous LP of his, 'Station To Station'). It wouldn't be until the early 80's that the full extent of their influence came to light, when black musicians in New York and Detroit, cited them as a major inspiration behind the Electro and Techno movements. 'Trans-Europe Express' wasn't a big track in the UK clubs, but was played on the specialist Roxy / Bowie nights of the time (the forerunner to the British Futurist scene of the early 80's). It was the type of record I'd put on early evening, because I personally liked it and it sounded so interesting, but wouldn't have fitted in peak time (it never made the UK chart). Little did we realise that this track would have such a massive bearing on the future of black music. This was down to the open-mindedness of Bronx 'master of records', Afrika Bambaataa, who'd begin to feature the track at Hip Hop block parties, where it eventually gained essential status (Bambaataa would refer to Kraftwerk as 'those funky white boys from Germany'). He would eventually use 'Trans-Europe Express', alongside a later Kraftwerk track, 1981's 'Numbers', as the template for his seminal Electro opus, 'Planet Rock', which would alter the course of dance culture, whilst helping to bring Hip Hop out of New York and into worldwide focus. As such, 'Trans-Europe Express' must be viewed, with hindsight, as one of the most significant records in the history of popular music.

Their first, and biggest, of a handful of hits between 1977-79, 'Do What You Wanna Do' was a dancefloor monster for T-Connection, just missing the UK top 10 (peaking at 11), whilst going all the way to number 1 on the US Disco chart. I remember this being an important record in terms of popularising the 12" with UK DJ's. Even though the first UK 12" had been released the previous October, many DJ's regarded the 12" as little more than a fad and refused, point blank, to buy them. It would still be some time before every dance release was available on 12", but an ever increasing amount were being issued. I recall a lot of DJ's dismissed them on the basis that they were too bulky to carry around, others couldn't see the point of a longer version that cost them more money, the 3-4 minute 7" standard regarded as ample (don't forget, British DJ's weren't mixing records like their US counterparts, so their whole approach was obviously different). It was a matter of people choosing to stick with what they were used to and resisting what they regarded as needless change. The more upfront Soul / Funk specialists, who were used to playing extended versions from albums, took to the format pretty much immediately, but, for a large percentage of mainstream DJ's, who rarely strayed from what was in the charts, it was a case of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it'. However, a track like 'Do What You Wanna Do' demanded to be heard in its unabbreviated 12" glory in order to get the full dynamic effect, so, by the time it was climbing up the chart, DJ's who only had it on 7" were berated by their audience for not playing the 'proper version'. As a result, this would be the first 12" bought by numerous DJ's, as we'll as normal record buyers in this country. There's no doubt that it helped change peoples opinions with regards to the validity of the format. Mastercuts maestro, Ian Dewhirst, once told me that if ever he saw a copy of 'Do What You Wanna Do' in a second hand shop he felt obliged to buy it, out of respect for the fact it was such a great record. As a consequence he had amassed dozens of copies over the years!

Onto the final track, and slowing things down with what's nowadays regarded as something of an evergreen ballad, 'Easy' by The Commodores, their first top 10 hit in the UK (number 9). Written by Lionel Richie, with the intention of becoming a crossover hit for the band, 'Easy' did the trick, reaching number 4 in the US, whilst topping the R&B charts, paving the way for similar Richie composed ballads in the coming years, such as 'Three Times A Lady', 'Sail On' and 'Still', and, subsequently, many of his solo hits.

Away from the clubs, the Sex Pistols marked the Queens Silver Jubilee (June 7th) with their notorious single, 'God Save The Queen', shocking the establishment in the process. Many believe it was denied the number 1 spot through industry manipulation, Rod Stewart's 'I Don't Want To Talk About It' holding it off.

Having passed my driving test in May '77 and spent '200 on my first car, a 1960's Triumph Herald convertible, I was able to cast my net wider when it came to potential club work. I was more than ready to move on from the Penny Farthing, and Liverpool was now a serious possibility. However, rather than heading through the Mersey tunnel, I actually ended up moving to the club next door, the Golden Guinea, where I'd spend 3 highly enjoyable years, whilst establishing myself as one of the leading club DJ's in the region.

The Guinea, as most people called it, like the Penny, was a 3 floor members club. The top floor was a bar, run by a larger than life lady called Twiggy, which would stay open after the rest of the club closed at 2am - there wasn't a DJ up there, just a jukebox. The middle floor had a stage where cabaret acts appeared, with a DJ, Rob Smedley (who'd been at the club for as long as anyone could remember) playing in-between. I'd work downstairs in a cellar type space where the walls were designed to make it seem like you were in a cave. It was referred to as the Disco (the legendary R&B singer, Jackie Wilson, had once appeared down there in the 60's, when the club was called The Kraal), and held around 250 people at a squeeze.

I can't remember how the clubs owner, John Stanley, came to ask me to work there, but I eagerly accepted, agreeing on a nightly fee of '10, which was a marked improvement on what I got at the Penny. I loved the club (especially the Disco floor), and used to go in there sometimes on my nights off, or after I'd worked at the Chelsea. Many of the Golden Guineas crowd wouldn't be seen dead in the Penny, which was regarded locally as something of a poor man's Guinea, the type of place people would go to who'd been knocked back next door. We were still in an era when guys had to wear a jacket to get into the club, although they were allowed to take it off once through the door, and the crowd at the Guinea was way smarter than those who went to the Penny. All in all it was a real opportunity to move up a gear as far as my DJ career was concerned, and I would grasp the situation with both hands.

I had a definite idea of where I wanted to take things on a musical level. Given the fact that Rob on the middle floor was happy to play the poppier stuff, I set myself the aim of making my floor one of the best places on Merseyside for Soul, Funk and Disco, somewhere you could hear imports alongside the best of the current releases, with the odd oldies spot thrown in for good measure. I didn't try to change things overnight, that would have isolated the existing audience, but I gradually made the room my own and, within about 6 months, had built a scene I could be proud of, with a solid core of regulars who were well into the stuff I played, and whose enthusiasm rubbed off on the other people in attendance, ensuring that the dancefloor stayed full, even when I played something that was a little less familiar.

The trick was to introduce newer records behind established floorfillers, whilst always having a big tune in reserve if something went wrong. I often saw DJ's, who were way too eager to impress, play all their biggest records far too early. They'd think they were tearing the place up when, all of a sudden, they'd realised that they'd run out of steam, and face the embarrassment of emptying the dancefloor at peak time. The rest of the night would prove to be a big struggle for these guys as they'd not only lost self-confidence, but also the confidence of the audience. Often they'd be replaced by another DJ the following week. I didn't go out all guns blazing the moment I saw a couple of people on the dancefloor. Instead, I'd hold back while the numbers built up and, once I felt that the place was primed, I'd take to the microphone to greet everyone and kick things off from that point. The intention was to bring the people onto the floor all at once, and keep them there - a simple theory, but not as straightforward as it sounds. The way you programmed the night was obviously key, but there was also a bigger picture to take into account - how you wanted the night to develop long-term. I was very much working with the audience, week-in-week-out, gaining their trust and gradually moulding things in line with my objectives. At the Chelsea Reach, the Penny Farthing and the Deerstalker, I was a DJ amongst other DJ's who worked in these venues, but the Golden Guinea would become 'my club' - it was an altogether deeper relationship, and one that helped me greatly evolve as a DJ.

Finally, just to let you know that the Time Capsule format has changed this month. Previously, every programme has been under 80 minutes long, enabling people to burn a complete show onto an audio CD if they want to listen away from their computer. However, this month we've gone through the 80 minute barrier for the first time, meaning that any CD copies would have to be mp3, rather than audio. I knew that it would only be a matter of time before this happened, the reason being that with more and more tracks being issued on 12", the average length is greater than it was. To miss out some tracks I'd have otherwise featured, in order to bring the time under 80 minutes, would compromise the show too much, and, with mp3 becoming much more widely used, I think this is the best way forward in order to safeguard the overall integrity of the programme, especially as the Disco era gathers momentum and extended 12" mixes become increasingly prevalent.

Copyright Greg Wilson - June 2007

Further Info:

Greg Wilson's Time Capsule - May 1977

  • Classic
  • Disco
  • Funk
  • 1h 17m
Following the disappointment of their Epic debut, 'Enjoy Yourself', which had failed to dent the top 40, the Jackson brothers managed to do something they'd previously been unable to do in the UK, even at the height of their fame as the Jackson Five - reach number 1 on the chart. The Gamble & Huff song, 'Show You The Way To Go' would be The Jackson's only British chart topper, although Michael Jackson would repeat the feat with an old Motown recording, 'One Day In Your Life', in 1981, before 'Billie Jean' followed suit in 1983, becoming the first of his 6 number 1's for Epic between '83 and '97 (Michael would also top the chart with 'Ebony And Ivory', the duo with Paul McCartney). The downtempo groove of 'Show You The Way To Go' was obviously more suited to British dancefloors as this failed to appear on the US Disco chart, although it reached number 6 on the R&B chart.

Evergreen Soul combo, Gladys Knight & The Pips, equalled the number 4 placing of 1975's 'The Way We Were - Try To Remember' with 'Baby Don't Change Your Mind'. This, however, would not only be the highest position attained by the group, but Knight's final appearance in the top 10 until 1989, when she reached number 6 (minus The Pips) with the James Bond song, 'Licence To Kill'.

Garnet Mimms was born in West Virginia in 1933, but brought up in Philadelphia, where he recorded his first record as part of the gospel group the Norfolk Four, in 1953. Following a period in the military, he returned to Philadephia in 1958 and formed a Doo Wop quintet called The Gainors who would record for several labels in the next few years, including Cameo, Mercury and Tally Ho. This group would evolve into Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters, who signed to United Artists in 1963 and scored a big hit with 'Cry Baby', whilst consolidating their arrival with 'Baby Don't You Weep' and the Jerry Butler song 'For Your Precious Love'. Mimms then decided to pursue a solo career, but things didn't work out as well as he'd hoped for and by 1967 he was sidelined to the United Artists subsidiary label Veep, before experiencing further disappointment after he moved to Verve Records (in-between he spent some time in England, where he appeared on the same bill as Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theatre, then leased by Beatles manager Brian Epstein). He finally re-emerged in 1977 with 'What It Is', a Randy Muller (from Brass Construction) production that reached number 44 in the UK. Prior to this Mimms was probably best known here in Northern Soul circles, where his United Artists single 'Looking For You' became something of an anthem a number of years on from its original US release (it was listed as high as number 8 in the Kev Roberts book 'The Northern Soul Top 500').

The Gap Band first came to my attention via the Stevie Wonder influenced single, 'Out Of The Blue (Can You Feel It)' from their self-titled album on Tattoo Records. It would make little impression outside of the specialist scene and it wouldn't be until the 1980's that the group embarked on a run of hits, of varying levels of success, starting off with 'Oops Up Side Your Head', which reached number 6 in 1980 (and would be accompanied on dancefloors up and down the land by the infamous rowing boat 'dance'!). Formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 70's, by the 3 Wilson brothers (Charles, Ronnie and Robert), the band would be most influenced by the P Funk of Parliament and Funkadelic, which really came out in their music after they'd signed to Mercury in 1979. Their most successful UK single would be 'Big Fun', which peaked at number 4 following its 1986 release, although they'll always be best remembered for 'Oops Up Side Your Head' and, in more specialist circles, their 1982 single 'Outstanding'.

Released in the UK on Contempo, 'Atmosphere Strutt', written and produced by Patrick Adams, had first appeared in the US on the P&P label. Blues & Soul gave it a 5 star review, which began; 'Now if you're looking for plain unadulterated disco corn, Partick Adams is your man! He has a unique way of creating totally commercial riffs that are guaranteed to destroy any disco floor and this catchy stomper has been doing just that for the past four months via imported copies'. Despite going on to tip it for Pop success (perhaps wishful thinking given the B&S / Contempo connection), the track failed to trouble the charts, although nowadays it's highly regarded by Disco connoisseurs.

In 1973 the Detroit Emeralds released one of the classic 70's Soul grooves, 'Feel The Need In Me', which climbed to number 4 in the UK following its release on Janus. There were 2 further British hits in '73, this time on Westbound, 'You Want It You Got It' (number 12) and 'I Think Of You' (number 27), before the group seemed vanish off the radar. By 1977 only one of the Emeralds' original members, Abrim Timon, remained, but, having secured a deal with Atlantic Records, a new version of 'Feel The Need In Me' was recorded, this time with the title shortened to 'Feel The Need', and featuring a Tom Moulton mix on the 12". It would take them back into the UK chart and the number 12 position, whilst making number 14 on the US Disco chart. However, like many other DJ's I felt something lacking in this new version, which had lost some of the magic of the sublime original, and I quickly switched back. The Detroit Emeralds were actually from Little Rock, Arkansas (one time home of ex-US president Bill Clinton), but formed in Detroit in 1968 - hence their name. Prior to 'Feel The Need In Me', their 1968 R&B hit for Ric-Tic, 'Show Time', had been their most successful single. Former Emeralds, James Mitchell and Marvin Willis were soon to return to the chart via the massive hit 'Float On' by The Floaters (to be featured in July '77 Time Capsule).

Next up it's John Davis & The Monster Orchestra, who went top 5 on the US Disco chart with 'Up Jumped The Devil'. I remember receiving this as a promo 12" with the forgettable 'Disco Carmen' by Gramophone Revival on the other side. What was unusual about this was that the Polydor label was on one side whilst it was RSO on the other ('Up Jumped The Devil' was issued by Sam in the States). Davis, from Philadelphia, had made his mark in the US with an album of mainly Cole Porter songs in 1976, including the title track, 'Night And Day', which, as with 'Up Jumped The Devil', reached number 5 on the Disco chart (although it failed to make any impression whatsoever in the UK clubs). As a producer, Davis would work with Phyllis Hyman, Carol Douglas and John Travolta, whilst he arranged for Diana Ross. He played on a number of other artists recordings, with sessions for Grace Jones, The Stylistics, the Salsoul Orchestra and The Trammps, to name a few. His best-known Monster Orchestra track, 'Ain't That Enough For You' would come in 1978, giving the project a minor UK hit.

From Dayton, Ohio, Slave was formed by trumpeter Steve Washington in 1975. The members were an amalgamation of 2 bands, The Young Mystics and Black Satin Soul. Ahead of their debut LP, WEA mailed out a promo album of 6 of their current and upcoming tracks, including 'You And Me' (alongside inclusions from Boney M, The Trammps, Cerrone and, in contrast to the club based selections, Television and The Eagles). This was almost 2 months ahead of its UK release as the debut single from Slave. Washington would leave the band just 2 years later to form Aurra with fellow Slave members Tom Lockett Jnr and Curt Jones, plus vocalist Starleana Young, who'd joined Slave with Steve Arrington in 1978. Arrington (formerly one of The Young Mystics) would become lead singer and Slave would go on to be regarded as one of the top bands on the black music scene during the early 80's, with releases including 'Just A Touch Of Love' (their only UK hit), 'Watching You', 'Snap Shot' and 'Wait For Me'. Arrington himself would leave the band to set up his own group, Steve Arrington's Hall Of Fame, who enjoyed a big underground track with 'Way Out' in 1982. 1983's 'Nobody Can Be You' gained more specialist support, before Arrington dropped the Hall Of Fame to embark on a solo career, making a chart breakthrough in 1985, when 'Feel So Real' went top 5 in the UK and 'Dancing In The Key Of Life' just missed the top 20. Having experienced a religious conversion in 1986, Arrington began to use his shows as forums for his beliefs during the next few years, before leaving the music scene altogether and becoming a minister at his own Amazing Love Full Gospel Church. Despite the various personnel changes, Slave would continue to record until 1992, although their golden period was undoubtedly 1977-1982.

'If You Gonna Do It (Put Your Mind To It)' was the final Peoples Choice single for Philadelphia International, and yet another solid groove. After a 3 year gap they'd eventually re-emerge with releases for Casablanca, then West End, although they'd fail to re-discover the formula that made their Philadelphia singles such club favourites.

Another full-on Funk offering, 'The Pride', saw the Isley Brothers back at the top of the US R&B chart, whilst reaching number 30 on the Disco chart. The song was one of several socially-conscious political songs the Isleys recorded throughout the 1970s.

Philadelphia born keyboardist, songwriter, arranger and producer, Dexter Wansel made his debut with 1976's 'Life On Mars' album, the title track subsequently becoming a Jazz-Funk standard. 'Disco Lights' would feature on his follow-up LP, 'What The World Is Coming To', taking him into the US Disco chart, where the single peaked at number 25. His love of advanced technology and the fusion of Rock, Soul, Dance and Jazz drew him a small but loyal following, and he'd record 4 albums for Philadelphia International between 1976-79. However, Wansel is arguably more notable for the contribution he quietly made to the Philly Sound in its latter period. Having met Gamble & Huff in the mid-70's, when he was the leader of a group called Yellow Sunshine, he began working for them as a keyboardist, and later an arranger and producer. His CV includes impressive names like The Jacksons, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, Patti Labelle, Phyllis Hyman, and the Philly house band, MFSB, for whom he was conductor for a time. He also co-wrote, with Cynthia Biggs, the 1981 Jones Girls favourite, 'Nights Over Egypt' and Patti Labelle's number 1 R&B hit, 'If Only You Knew', from 1984.

From West Palm Beach, Florida, Jimmy 'Bo' Horne, was one of the main exponents of Miami's sunshine sound. With Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of KC & The Sunshine Band providing songwriting and production expertise (as they also did for artists including George McCrae and Betty Wright). 1975's 'Gimme Some' had been a US Disco hit for Horne, and 'Get Happy' followed suit, reaching number 17 on the Disco chart. His biggest selling single, 'Dance Across The Floor' would be released in 1978, but, nowadays, he's probably best remembered for his 1979 release, 'Spank', which, although still produced by Casey & Finch, was written by Ronald L. Smith.

Shalamar's 'Uptown Festival' is a record with a fascinating story, on a number of different levels. It starts with Simon Soussan, a legendary, if somewhat infamous, figure on the Northern Soul scene - a French Moroccan who was based in Leeds. With an eye for business, Soussan was allegedly the biggest bootlegger of rare singles during Northern Soul's golden era in the 70's. He became a notorious figure as a result of the various 'scams' he came up with, and Ian Levine, in an interview with Bill Brewster some years ago, summed him up in the following way; 'He damaged the scene and people have still not forgotten him after 25 years. He's still a figure of contempt. But he did discover a lot of great records. He went on to become a successful disco producer'. Re-locating to Los Angeles in the mid-70's, Soussan had set up a record exporting business in collaboration with Selectadisc in Nottingham. It was here that Ian Dewhirst (DJ Frank on the Northern scene) hooked-up with him. Dewhirst, just out of his teens, had come to the US in order to search for Soul rarities, which he'd send back to his partner in the UK, another important player on the scene, Neil Rushton (who would later play a major role in promoting the Techno movement). Inspired by the success of 'The Best Disco In Town' by the Ritchie Family (see Aug '76 Time Capsule), Dewhirst suggested that a similar styled Motown medley would work well. Soussan thought a medley of Northern Soul favourites would be better still, but Dewhirst, realising the limitations of this, especially with the US audience in mind, argued that a Motown medley would appeal to a much wider market. Soussan was persuaded that this was the way to go and lost no time in taking the bull by the horns and pulling the project together. This is how 'Uptown Festival' was born. Financed by Soussan, his wife, Dewhirst and Rushton, a team of anonymous session musicians were recruited (including El Coco's W. Michael Lewis and Laurin Rinder and the Los Angeles Philharmonic String Section, amongst many others) and Ike & Tina Turner's LA studios were hired for the recording. One of the vocalists featured was former Ikette, Pat Powdrill, who remembered her dealings with Soussan being less than satisfactory; 'He told us this was a demo, for his home use. Simon Soussan took the track to Soul Train Records and made a bank. Patty Powdrill got nothing. Ha ha, isn't that horrible?'. However, before the track was signed by Soul Train, the label set up in 1975 by the famous host of the TV show, Don Cornelius, Soussan had had a meeting with Tom DePierro at Motown's LA offices, and it was here that he came across an extremely rare single called 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' by Frank Wilson, which had been pressed, but never issued, on Motown's Soul label in 1965. Ian Levine takes up the story; 'Tom DePierro was quite high up at Motown. He was a very nice gay guy. He had got one of the only two copies that were in existence of this single. According to Frank Wilson, they pressed up some copies and because he was producing Brenda Holloway, and Berry Gordy collared him backstage somewhere and said, 'Hey man do you really wanna be an artist with all the hassles?', so Frank says, 'You're right Berry I'm not going to be an artist.' So Berry destroyed the records and, somehow, two survived. Soussan borrowed the copy off DePierro. Every month he would ask for his record back and Soussan would say (mimics Soussan's French accent) 'Oh, baby, I bring it tomorrow', not knowing that he'd sold it to Les McCutcheon (future manager of the band Shakatak). Tom DePierro got AIDS and went to his death-bed without ever getting the record back off Simon. Soussan bootlegged the Frank Wilson as Eddie Foster. He sped it up slightly'. The Frank Wilson (aka Eddie Foster) single would become a Wigan Casino classic and, in 1999, the 2nd copy, which had turned up in Canada in 1990, would change hands for a world record '15,000! The Northern Soul connection also extended directly to Shalamar, who got their name via The Shalimars, whose 1966 Verve single, 'Stop And Take A Look At Yourself' had been a Northern favourite. 'Uptown Festival' would go on to become a massive US Disco hit, just missing the top spot, whilst reaching number 30 on the UK chart. As a consequence, a permanent line-up of Jody Watley, Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniel was brought together, and the hits came thick and fast, all the way through to the mid-80's. Daniel, previously a Soul Train dancer, is also acknowledged as being the person who brought body-popping to this country, following a British TV appearance by Shalamar in the early 80's. Ian Dewhirst would return to the UK soon after the recording of 'Uptown Festival', where he'd go on to DJ at one of Britain's pioneering New York style discotheques, The Warehouse in Leeds. Later down the line he'd head up Fourth & Broadway in the UK before going on to devise the brilliant and hugely influential Mastercuts compilation series, amongst many other ongoing contributions to the documentation of dance culture. He's also a member of the Six Million Steps crew and does a weekly radio programme, The Original Mastercuts Show, on Starpoint Radio, with 6MS partner Alan Champ. Simon Soussan went on to produce Disco projects including Arpeggio, Pattie Brooks and French Kiss, often re-writing tracks from the Northern Soul scene to bring them into a Disco context (i.e. - 'Love And Desire' by Arpeggio was 'Stronger Than Her Love' by The Flirtations). Little has been heard about him since the demise of Disco and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Onto the British artist John Miles, from Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, a vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player who had once been in a band called The Influence with Paul Thompson (later the drummer with Roxy Music) and Vic Malcolm (guitarist with Geordie). Having signed to Decca Records as a solo artist, Miles scored his first hit in 1975 with 'Highfly', which reached number 17. His biggest single, the grandiose 'Music' went to number 3 in 1976, with his debut album, 'Rebel' also going into the top 10. The follow-up single, 'Remember Yesterday' didn't fare quite so well, fizzling out at number 32, but he'd return to the charts one last time, climbing to number 10 with 'Slow Down'. This was a change of direction from his earlier singles; it was aimed squarely at the dancefloor and became a big club favourite on both sides of the Atlantic (going as high as number 2 on the US Disco chart). Although this was his last hit single, he consistently made it onto the album chart for the next 4 years, albeit the lower regions. During the late 80's and into the 90's he worked as musical director to Tina Turner on her various tours and played on several of her albums.

To slow things down after 'Slow Down', it's Rose Royce with the 4th single to be taken from the excellent 'Car Wash' soundtrack. Gwen Dickey returns to the fore for the mournful 'I'm Going Down', a song that was revived in 1994 (the title amended to 'I'm Goin' Down'), with Mary J Blige, finally taking it into the UK chart (number 12), the Rose Royce original having failed to show.

In mid-May the postman delivered a very welcome package, my first mail out from CBS. This was the final mailing list on my wish list, which meant I was now receiving advanced promotion copies of pretty much all the dance releases issued in the UK. CBS covered a trio of essential labels (CBS, Epic and Philadelphia International) so, along with WEA (Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Elektra, Cotillion etc), it was right up there at the top of the tree. I used to get a huge buzz waking up in the morning to see what the postman had brought. May '77 had been my best month to date with regards to the amount of records I'd been mailed - 123 in all! With the exception of the odd import here and there, I was spending next to nothing on new releases, my trips to the record shops being more about digging out copies of older tracks that I didn't have.

Despite the edge that this gave me over other local DJ's, none of whom were receiving anything like the amount of promos I did, I was unfulfilled when it came to my weekly deejaying schedule. Apart from my nights at the Chelsea Reach, which I always enjoyed, the Penny Farthing was a bit of a chore, whilst The Deerstalker in Birkenhead had failed to take off in the way that I'd hoped. I was badly in need of a change of scenery as I felt I'd been stagnating since the turn of the year. It was time to move on to the next stage, I just needed the break.

My prayers were about to be answered.

Copyright Greg Wilson - May 2007

Further Info:
We open up with 'Disco Inferno', one of the defining singles of the Disco era from one of the genres greatest exponents, The Trammps. From the moment Earl Young's cymbal crash dramatically announced its arrival you knew you were in for a ride, as the tracks relentless groove took the dancefloor by the scruff of the neck. The 3rd US Disco number 1 by the band, 'Disco Inferno' (listed alongside 'Starvin'' and 'Body Contact Contract'), followed 'That's Where The Happy People Go' and 'Disco Party' (never a UK favourite) to the summit. It would reach number 16 on the British chart, giving the band their biggest single here since 'Hold Back The Night' went top 10 in 1975. However, for many people it's a track that will always be associated with an event that post-dated this - the phenomenal success of the Disco blockbuster, 'Saturday Night Fever', later in the year, with 'Disco Inferno' one of the key inclusions on the films soundtrack, which would go on to spawn one of the biggest selling albums of all-time. Returning to the UK top 50 (number 47) in June '78 as a consequence of the films success, this would surprisingly be The Trammps final hit (although a re-issue of 'Hold Back The Night' made it to number 30 in the early 90's).

Having made a major breakthrough with 'Boogie Nights', Heatwave scored again with the title track from their debut album, 'Too Hot To Handle', although this time they had to be satisfied with the more conservative chart peak of number 15 (still a place higher than 'Disco Inferno'). Included as part of a double-a side package was a new track, 'Slip Your Disc To This' (featured later in the programme), which also gained favour in the clubs. Remarkably, 'Slip Your Disc to This' was only ever issued on the 7" (there was no 12"), and it didn't appear on their follow-up LP, 1978's 'Central Heating', either, nor on any subsequent 'best of' compilations - very much a lost track.

The great Marvin Gaye's ode to Disco was his last Motown classic. The exquisitely funky 'Got To Give It Up' casts Gaye in the role of a former wallflower who embraces the newly found freedom of the dancefloor. It would take him back to the top of the US chart (his 3rd number 1 single, the others being 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' in 1969 and 1973's 'Let's Get It On'), as we'll as the Disco chart. In the UK it reached number 7, but would be Gaye's final UK hit for Motown (not including the Berry Gordy tribute, 'Pops We Love You' in 1979, a minor British hit, which he recorded with fellow titans of the label, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder). It goes without saying that Marvin Gaye's impact on popular music was immense, especially his seminal album. 'What's Going On', which was released in 1971 and generally takes turns with The Beatles and their mighty 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band', when it comes to topping the critics all-time greatest album listings. Sadly, Gaye's career, as well as his personal life, would go into decline after this, although he'd rally in 1982 with the release of a final mega hit, 'Sexual Healing', this time for Columbia. But this 'renaissance' would only prove to be a prelude to his untimely death in 1984, when his father shot him the day before his 45th birthday.

The new Kool & The Gang single in this country, released on the Contempo label, saw 'Open Sesame' issued back-to-back with 'Super Band'. 'Open Sesame', which begins the October '76 Time Capsule, was already a club favourite and, although not as memorable, 'Super Band' was nevertheless another welcome track by the master funksters.

Another Contempo release this month, also licensed via De-Lite, was 'Dancin'' by Brooklyn's Crown Heights Affair. Sounding like the mutant child of Isaac Hayes' 'Theme From Shaft' and their own 'Dreaming A Dream', 'Dancin'' was a potent combination, resulting in a serious club tune, although it never quite caught on with the mainstream crowd (they'd have to wait until the following year, and the more commercially accessible 'Galaxy Of Love', to make their chart breakthrough).

Aquarian Dream (not to be confused with the contemporary dance act) were an 8 piece band originally instigated as an offshoot project by Philadelphia drummer, Norman Connors. 'Phoenix' and another track from their debut album, 'East 6th Street' would find favour with the Jazz-Funk audience, which would become a force during the coming years. They'd later move from Buddah to Elektra, releasing their best-known single, 'You're A Star', which would be a massive tune on the Jazz-Funk scene and a minor UK hit in 1979. One of Aquarian Dream's members, the singer, Sylvia Striplin (who joined at the time the band signed to Elektra), would later hook-up with Roy Ayers, recording tracks like 'You Can't Turn Me Away' and 'Give Me Your Love' for his Uno Melodic label in the early 80's.

Brazilian pianist, Sergio Mendes, had been recording since the early 60's, and was most noted for his platinum album 'Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66', released on Herb Alpert's label A&M in, you guessed, 1966. He'd amass a run of 10 US hit singles of varying degrees of success, before the end of the 60's, the biggest being his interpretations of Bacharach & David's 'The Look Of Love' and Lennon & McCartney's 'Fool On The Hill', which reached numbers 4 and 6 respectively in 1968. Although the hits dried up, he carried on recording albums into the 70's and beyond, changing to Sergio Mendes & Brasil '77 in 1971. By 1977 he'd amended this to 'Sergio Mendes & The New Brasil '77' for his latest album, from which 'The Real Thing', penned by Stevie Wonder, would be issued as a single. Like all his previous releases, 'The Real Thing' would fail to make any impression on the UK chart - it wouldn't be until 1983 that Mendes finally broke his duck, when 'Never Gonna Let You Go' went to number 45. In 2006, he collaborated with contemporary artists including Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, John Legend, Q-Tip and Justin Timberlake, as well as his old friend, Stevie Wonder, on his 'Timeless' album.

'The Shuffle' would be the 4th and final UK hit for Van McCoy, and his second biggest single here, behind 'The Hustle', peaking at number 4.

Reaching number 2 with his only British hit, 'Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)', veteran R&B artist, Joe Tex, had unleashed one of the era's biggest novelty dance tracks. Tex (from Baytown, Texas) had been recording since the mid-50's, although his first big break came as a songwriter, when James Brown had a hit in 1962 with one of his compositions, 'Baby You're Right'. He finally secured top 5 status for himself via 1965's 'Hold On To What You've Got' and, with hindsight, his style of speaking over music has been cited as prototype rap. He converted to the Muslim faith, changing his name to Yusuf Hazziez, and toured as a spiritual lecturer, but he continued to record as Joe Tex. For many Americans, as well as black music fans in this country, he's best remembered for 1972's 'I Gotcha', which just missed the top spot on the US chart. 'I Gotcha' was revived to great effect in the 1992 cult-classic Quentin Tarrantino movie, 'Reservoir Dogs', as one of the tracks played by DJ K-Billy (Steven Wright) on 'the station where the 70's survived'. This was 10 years on from Joe Tex's death, in 1982, following a heart attack (aged 49).

KC & The Sunshine Band returned to the top of the US chart with their new single, 'I'm Your Boogie Man', although the track surprisingly failed to reach the UK top 40, stalling at number 41. The third hit from their 'Part 3' album, following '(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty' and 'Keep It Comin' Love', and the first issued in the UK on the TK label (TK releases previously issued here on Jayboy). More recently, as many will no doubt have noted, 'I'm Your Boogie Man' provided the sample source for my underground dance groove, 'I Was A Teenage DJ Pt 1'.

'Let 'Em In' started life as a track written by Paul McCartney, but intended for his old Beatles colleague, Ringo Starr. However, McCartney decided to record it himself, and it was released by his band Wings in August 1976, reaching number 2 in the UK. The original version celebrates friends and family, with Macca listing 'Sister Suzie, Brother John (Lennon), Martin Luther (King), Phil & Don (Everly Brothers), Brother Michael (McCartney / McGear), Uncle Ernie & Auntie Gin (relatives). Martin Luther King's inclusion obviously inspired Billy Paul to amend the lyrics, giving the track a new lease of life as an anthem for equality, which even includes sections of speeches by King and Malcolm X, something I don't think had been previously done in this type of context. Paul's version took the track back into the UK chart, where it became his most successful single since 'Me And Mrs Jones', peaking at number 26.

Having enjoyed a top 40 hit in 1976 with 'I Need It', Johnny 'Guitar' Watson almost repeated the trick, just falling short with the downright funky 'A Real Mother For Ya', which reached number 44.

Having first made the UK top 30 as George 'Bad' Benson, with 1975's 'Supership', Benson (no longer 'Bad') was back with a cover of a haunting song that had been written in 1947 by composer Eden Ahbez, in tribute to his friend Robert 'Gypsy Boots' Bootzin. San Francisco born Bootzin, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, whose philosophy of clean living, exercise and healthy eating laid the foundation in America for the forthcoming interest in 'alternative' lifestyles, such as the practice of yoga and the growing of organic food, would open one of the world first Health Shops, and is credited as being the inventor of the fruit drink concoction he named a 'smoothie'. In 1948, Nat King Cole's wonderful recording of 'Nature Boy' topped the US chart, and the song would subsequently be acknowledged as a standard, with versions by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass, Marvin Gaye (on his Nat King Cole tribute album), James Brown, Sarah Vaughan, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, to name but a few. Bobby Darin's version would finally take it into the UK charts, in 1961, reaching number 24, a position 2 places higher than Benson's peak (26). However, it was the Brit Funk band, Central Line, who'd achieve the highest UK chart placing when their dance version found its way to number 21 in 1983. The song was revived for the Baz Luhrmann movie, 'Moulin Rouge' in 2001 - David Bowie singing it at the films opening, setting the tone of the story, before reprising it at the end, this time accompanied by Massive Attack.

Finally it's the first UK single by former Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes frontman, Teddy Pendergrass, 'The Whole Town's Laughing At Me', another track that would peak at number 44. Pendergrass never achieved the level of success here that he did in the States, where he became the first Afro-American to record 5 platinum selling albums in a row. None of his solo singles made the British top 40, although a greatest hits album, 'Satisfaction Guaranteed - The Very Best Of Teddy Pendergrass', which included some Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes favourites, reached number 26 in 2004.

Copyright Greg Wilson - April 2007

Further Info: